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Chinese tourists flock to Thailand

Chinese visitors to Thailand this year outnumbered every other countries with more than 2.5 million, a 56 per cent increase from last year’s 1.7 million. Their traditional and favourite destinations are Bangkok, Pattaya, Ayutthaya and Phuket.

Olivier Languepin

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Chinese visitors to Thailand this year outnumbered every other countries with more than 2.5 million, a 56 per cent increase from last year’s 1.7 million. Their traditional and favourite destinations are Bangkok, Pattaya, Ayutthaya and Phuket.

Thailand’s northern city of Chiang Mai is expected to attract an increasing number of Chinese tourists in the foreseeable future now that a Chinese comedy shot on location in Chiang Mai has become a blockbuster in China.

For the first time in the history of Chinese cinema, a one billion yuan movie was born. Lost in Thailand (2012) is the first Chinese movie to gross over 1 billion yuan (US$161 million) in box office receipts. Just ten years ago, the entire country’s box office revenue totaled 900 million yuan.

Three Bouddhas at Wat Jedyod in Chiang Mai
Three Bouddhas at Wat Jedyod in Chiang Mai

According to Kasian Watanachaopisut, president of the Thai- Chinese Tourism Alliance Association, the Chinese film entitled ” Lost in Thailand” has reportedly made up to 700 million yuan (111 million U.S. dollars) since it premiered in the world’s most populated country earlier this month.

Produced with a 30 million yuan (4.7 million U.S. dollars) budget and directed by Chinese movie star Xu Zheng, “Lost in Thailand” might probably become China’s most-viewed comedy of all time.

Kasian said the film has drawn the attention of Chinese viewers to the fascinations and tourism qualities of Chiang Mai and many are interested to visit it some day.

The Sino-Japanese conflict has diverted travelers from both countries to Thailand

According to him, a total of 2.5 million Chinese tourists are estimated to visit Thailand throughout 2012, and only a meager 2 percent of them are reported to have been somehow attracted to Chiang Mai or other northern spots.

“But that comedy is believed to be drawing a lot more of the Chinese tourists to Chiang Mai where local villagers, cultural heritages and scenic, natural spots are so inviting and well- preserved,” he said.

“With the help of ‘Lost in Thailand’ which is now a Chinese box office smash featuring Chiang Mai as a beautiful tourist spot worth visiting, we do hope that the number of Chinese tourists to Chiang Mai will substantially increase from this year’s 50,000,” he said.

According to a local tourism official, Chinese tourists spend an average of 3,750 baht (125 U.S. dollars) each in Chiang Mai per day.

Political stability and the increasing popularity of tourist attractions in Thailand have contributed to the tourism boom, while the ongoing Sino-Japanese conflict has diverted travelers from both countries to Thailand.

Number one ranked in numbers of visitors to Thailand this year is from China with 2.5 million travelers.  Russia placed second with one million visitors, while India, South Korea and Japan each produced almost one million people from each country.

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